Annual Bike Trip – Our Third Adventure with Grace and Stu

We went early this year, and to another location. This time, we drove to Ann Arbor after work last Friday, arriving at Grace and Stu’s at close to midnight. I had packed dinner for the car ride, but of course our hosts, clearly exhausted from their workdays, offered us food and drink, which we politely declined. Just had to get to bed! The next morning, after a breakfast of fruit, yogurt and bagels, we packed their SUV with our luggage, racked the four bikes – mine is the heaviest by far – and drove north. Stu did almost all the driving this trip. No outfitter this time, carried our own luggage and biked from our destinations and back each day.

Our first stop was about three hours from Ann Arbor, in the Gaylord area. We stopped for lunch in Gaylord, which was attached to an amazing, nontouristy shop in which I could have enjoyed a major shopping fest had I allowed myself the liberty, which I thankfully did not. The most adorable clothes! Just my style – a little funky but not over the top, ok for someone of my advanced age to wear without looking eccentric. Great jewelry, books, and very original lamps and lampshades, which are impossible to find, as well as vases and other containers, all unusual. I am so bored by the stuff at Target most of the time, and many places which sell such boring ordinary things because they are so terrified anything original will not sell, that they carry what they think will please the masses. The unusual stuff, when it is to be had, is often pretty ugly and also stodgy and also very expensive. This store was reasonable, although not cheap. But did not buy a thing. Forget what I had for lunch. Iced tea was part of it.

We stayed at a spot called Silent Sport Lodge. Got settled in our rooms and went for a 20 mile bike ride – 10 miles out and ten back. Although the day had started very gloomily – pouring, relentless rain in Ann Arbor – the weather had completely cleared and the sky was blue and cloudless, the temperature perfect for riding bikes. Gravel trail, not the easiest to ride on, but flat, lots of wildflowers on the sides.

We had dinner rez at 7 at a place near hotel, where we had one of the specialties, Walleye fish, which is a firm white fish caught in the Great Lakes. Got an enormous glass of sweet Reisling, my unabashed favorite, and within a couple of sips, felt myself getting tipsy. Grace, also a cheap date (but with more sophisticated wine tastes) also began to feel the effects almost immediately. We got pretty relaxed and silly, a sequela that lasted for a few hours. After dinner, we wandered to a soft serve spot, where I chose a small (not kid sized) chocolate cone with sprinkles (rainbow was all they had, but I would have preferred chocolate). And by this time, we were all pretty exhausted so went back to this lodge, which was nestled deep in a wooded area and intended mostly for hikers and birdwatchers. Very prettily situated, with beautiful gardens. The inn was constructed with logs, and hand built by the owner. Lots of nature knick knacks, including skins of various animals. In the entry room were many bears, some plush, some actual bearskins, draped everywhere. In our loft bedroom, what looked like a beaver skin decorated the top of one of the bureaus. One memorable thing about the place was the well water – very delicious!

We shared a table the next morning with another couple, who were about our age. The man was overweight and the woman, his wife, was extremely overweight. In our conversation, in which we discussed flyfishing, it became clear that the woman did not venture forth from her home much, but that her husband often went out flyfishing and on other active adventures with his sons. I felt sorry for the woman – I had a feeling her weight held her back from doing things she might otherwise have enjoyed, and that part of her craved adventure, but decided that train had left the station long ago. The breakfast was sausages, maple pancakes made with hometapped maple syrup, and fruit. The food, including the fruit, was served family style. Bowl of fruit at table seemed to me to be but a single serving, but meant to be shared by all. Everyone took a small portion. When I noticed some leftover, I helped myself to the rest. One of the owners came to collect the dishes and clucked when she saw the bowl was empty, muttering something about there not being enough for the other couple who had not eaten yet. Like, if you want some left over, don’t serve it family style, lady! Anyhow, breakfast was at 8, so anyone who did not make it to the table by then would, a la High Anxiety, miss the fruit cup, right? Grace and I bonded on this matter, but the guys did not express an opinion.

Mackinaw City, an hour away, was our next destination. We got settled into the inn and onto our bicycles well before lunch, and rode with Lake Huron in view almost the entire time. Trail was gravel again, kind of hard to ride on. On this fifteen mile ride, on another clear and sunny day, my legs were really feeling the resistance, even on lower gear. I think maybe I was just not as in good shape this year as last – more time to prepare last year since trip had been in autumn and I had been able to cycle many times prior. Had only biked twice prior to this year’s trip, since weather had been conducive only recently. At the fifteen mile mark, we stopped at a one horse town for lunch, at a place which seemed to attract Grace with its offering of olive burgers, apparently a northern Michigan specialty – a burger adorned with olive sauce, with olives in the sauce, but not in the burger itself. I got an unimpressive taco salad and fries. I was starved to death, so gobbled it all up, but the fries were such a disappointment. For some reason, the fifteen mile ride back to hotel seemed burdensome to me. It might have been the gravel, I do not know. My tires were fine. I decided I need a new carrier for the back of the bike, one that does not hand down the sides of the wheel to be constantly in the way of my heels as I try to pedal. I had gotten this particular Mongoose carrier because I had seen that Stu had one a few years ago. This is why I ended up getting a Patagonia cross shoulder pack – because I saw Grace with one last year. This purchase was great – it is very light, not hard on the neck or shoulders, and a great way to carry a surprising quantity of necessities. I kind of liked the Mongoose carrier also, because it has a large capacity, but the hanging down part has proven to be a real pain. I also think maybe it is time for me to get a new bicycle, a lighter one, if such can be had, that is also a hybrid, but not over the top expensive.

So by the time we returned to the inn, it was about four. I needed a shower and a little rest, feeling absolutely drained and exhausted for reasons unclear. Just no energy. Maybe I was dehydrated, although I had been drinking water, but just beat. Felt better after a shower, actually had to lie down and doze for a few minutes – about five minutes into this doze, I got la madre of all hot flashes, which awakened me right quick. As a matter of fact, all this discussion about fatigue makes me feel like taking a nap right now. ZZZZZZZZZ. . .there! All better! Just kidding.

That night, which was Sunday, we went to a place recommended by several sources called “Darrell’s.”On our walk to restaurant, we passed a soft serve place and cb got some because he was hyoglycemic. Grace and Stu got some also, right before dinner!!!!! I wanted some too, but refrained. I do not like having dessert before dinner anyhow, but as far as weight management, it would have been a dumb and thoughtless, or as we say in the jargon, mindless, move. We got to the restaurant, where there was a line, which although initially intimidating, moved very quickly. A family restaurant, informal and with no alcohol, which was probably a good thing. Another good and bad thing: none of the bread on this trip was worth eating. The first night, the server kept forgetting to give us the bread I had requested. The second night, the bread, supposedly made on the premises, was white styrofoam, even the crust, and lunch on the third day supplied one of those very boring dinner rolls from which I ate a bit of the crust. Anyway, the specialty at Darrell’s was their white fish, another fish caught in the Lake. Broiled, dripping with butter, even tho I requested without, a huge slab. I could have finished but left about a quarter of it, and there was a big side of white corn kernels and a baked potato, and I also had a salad and I had homemade chicken noodle soup, heavy on the noodles. At the hotel, homemade dessert was served at 8, which was cheesecake, and I only had about 1/4 of my piece, with some coffee. I really wanted ice cream, but was too full and lazy to go out for any, so even tho cheesecake is only an ok dessert in my book, I had some anyway.

Another “light” breakfast the next morning at the inn, which was fruit, very big pastry with icing, spinach ham quiche, and blueberry muffins. I skipped the juice, skipped the ham, the quiche crust, and the pastry, although partook of the icing, and ate the muffin top but not the muffin body. Fruit serving was, once again, paltry – a few grapes and two triangles of watermelon, whose isosceles sides measured about two inches apiece. Of course I observed the other couples, this time, thank the Good Lord, seated at separate tables – misanthrope that I am, I am not keen on breaking bread with random peops with whom I am unlikely to have anything substantial in common, and whose presence I generally find intrusive, especially when I am trying to catch up with friends I have not seen in a long time, or even my husband, with whom, even tho I see him almost every day, I hardly ever get to spend quality time. The other guests did not seem like folks I would take a particular interest in. All maybe about our age, all very conservative looking, with dowdy attire and hairstyles, all overweight, all unfit in appearance, none animated. I know I am a snob and insufferably judgmental, and unapologetic about it. I do try to be judgmental for the right reasons, though. This aspect of my personality is unfortunately reminiscent of my Mom. My Dad was also judgmental, but not as vociferous about it and also more sensitive than my Mom about other peops’ feelings.

Never got much of look into the many shops in Mackinaw City, mostly because they were very touristy and commercial. Many of the numerous establishments sold fudge, saltwater taffy, kettle and other popcorn products, and ice creams of various varieties and flavors. Not much fro yo. No healthy food joints. Many bars. I was pretty overwhelmed, even coming from a city like Pittsburgh, one of the nation’s heaviest cities, by the prevalence of extremely high BMI’s during our travels. Very few folks were making use of the trails – trails were virtually empty the first two days — and the average BMI was well over 45. This includes children and adolescents. Many of these individuals of size walked around with enormous ice cream treats. It was flabbergasting. The scariest part for me is that I can visualize myself in that situation. If left to my own whims with no filter or inhibition, I would spend my entire day eating high fat, high sugar, high calorie , high sodium, mostly processed foods. If I had different genetics, I would not have any internal buffers against weight gain. If I were not in the health field with a focus on obesity, if not raised in a weight-conscious family where I was scrutinized for the acquisition of even an extra ounce, if I were any lazier or less motivated, if i had not been practicing weight control for so long, if I had not recognized the need for help fifteen years ago when i joined Weight Watchers to stem my out of control eating, if I had not married such a supportive (and thin!) husband, anything could have happened, but I fear my BMI would be in competition for heavyweight championship. So I am not without sympathy or empathy – although I am well aware that I could not possibly really understand what it is like to carry enough extra weight to be unhealthy, I do completely get impulses and compulsions to eat too much and not exercise, and now, with menopause, and a far slower metabolism, losing any weight at all, even a pound, takes so much effort, that I can imagine how it must be to have to lose so much more. Upon return from the bike trip, at Weight Watchers, the scale showed a gain of 1.2 pounds, which is fairly good. I did eat a LOT by any objective measure, BUT still very much restrained myself – so many things I did not eat that I wanted to eat. This year only biked a total of about 60 miles, as opposed to the hundred plus of last year. Our second biking day, as I mentioned, 30 miles seemed like a lot.

This last morning, we ferried to Mackinac (also pronounced Mackinaw) Island. it is an island without motor vehicles (snowmobiles allowed in winter) – travel is by foot, by horse, or by bicycle. The island’s perimeter is a bit over 8 miles. The detour we took to see The Grand Hotel – an uphill bicycle climb – put us at ten miles that day, and that was enough for me. We were going to have a four hour drive back to Ann Arbor that afternoon, which meant cycling, lunch, ferry back to Mackinaw City, then begin the drive, probably not get on the road till about 2. I could not see getting into bed till about 11 or later! Then we would have to get going very early on Tuesday morning in order to get back in time for cb’s Deans’ meeting – our drive would be about five or so hours. Lunch was ok – the disappointing roll I mentioned earlier, a salad with feta and two large but not the freshest shrimp. Anemic fruit salad for dessert.

Walked around afterwards, visiting the myriad shops, all very much the same as each other. Slightly higher end shops on a street parallel to the main drag, none kind of nice, selling a lot of wares from Ireland, managed by a guy who lived on the island all year round and loved it. I cannot even imagine. But he seemed like a great guy, liked talking to the customers

Although a lot of bicyclists on the island, the horse drawn buggy tours of the island seemed to be the main attraction for the ferried tourists. Some buggies carried six to eight people, and with two horses in front. Once again, the passengers were generally of very high BMI. I felt very very sorry for the horses, who during the course of their tours, had to go up steep hills carrying loads which might have equaled a ton or even more in some cases. Day in and day out they have to do this.

Animals we saw: deer, horses, a bunny, squirrels, a few cats, a few dogs, lots of birds. No bears or unusual creatures. Even the innkeeper with all the bear paraphernalia confessed to having seen only one live bear in the entire twenty years he had owned the place.

When we first arrived on Friday at Grace and Stu’s we got a glimpse of and a hug from their oldest son, Nick, who is a bit younger than Max. We had not seen Nicky for several years. He looked great and happy. After getting back to Ann Arbor on Monday evening, Topher, who is Mollie’s age, got back from an afternoon of rock climbing, gave us a hug and disappeared. He also looked very handsome, and about ten inches taller than when we saw him last. cb and I like these kids a lot.

Of course, Grace and Stu decided to prepare an unbelievably elaborate meal, which they called a Japanese/Korean fusion meal, the components lf which were to be grilled on their new table top grill,actually a griddle, although there is also a built-in indoor stovetop grill. cb and took on role of sous chefs, slicing veggies according to Grace’s strict specifications. Once food prepped, we all sat around griddled, which was made very hot. We cooked items individually, and ate as we went along. Everything was very fresh – by far the best meal on whole trip. Crab legs, shrimp, scallops, marinated beef, KimChee, acorn squash,exotic mushrooms, peppers, onions. The were scallions. There were also stir-fried bok choy, shredded cabbage mixed with sesame oil, and various condiments and sauces in which to dip the cooked food. I may be forgetting something, but you get the idea. Just superb. No room for dessert, not too heartbreaking, considering the quantity consumed.

So food and exercise, with peops I love – the ingredients, so to speak, of my perfect vacation.

But I had missed Mollie, who was holding down the fort, and I had missed Catja, who was bringing lots of animals into the house and leaving behind only their entrails, which Mollie cleaned up, and I had missed Pittsburgh. I always do miss being home. It is great to be back.

To all friends, family and colleagues who kindly and thoughtfully and so generously contributed to the crowdfunding effort to develop a BodyChangers app, Jeff and I thank you. I know the identity of the two Anonymous donors, but will never tell. My peops contributed a total so far of $500.00. We now have almost three thousand of our seven thousand dollar goal, so I ask my other friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances to check out the website:, click on BodyChangers. And consider donating to a great cause – socially interactive app with a healthy rewards premise to improve health and fitness. Only 18 more days!

For every dollar contributed, Jeff or I will perform a calisthenic activity, which will be videoed and posted on the website, pretty embarrassing! Also on Facebook.

This entry was posted on Friday, July 3rd, 2015 at 2:45 pm and is filed under aspirations, Eating Behavior, Exercise, fitness, food!, friends & family, gluttony, inspiration, Lifestyle, Nutrition, philosophy, weight, Weight Gain, Weight Loss, weight management, Wellness. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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